Saturday, August 09, 2008

Summer Sales Coming to an End.

This summer I decided to make a special effort to attend as many community sales, flea markets, and estate sales as possible. It's been a good opportunity to spend Saturday mornings with my family, and pick up some nice stuff on the cheap. We've certainly been able to put together a great library for Baby E., which I am sure he will enjoy as he gets older. Given the amount of second hand children's books available out there, it seems foolish to buy them new. And you don't have to settle for grimy, beat up versions either. It appears that many parents who get kiddie lit end up letting it rest on their shelves. I have seen tons of stuff in mint condition available for anywhere from a dime to a dollar.

Last year we only really attended two or three neighborhood-wide sales. The Aspinwall community day was especially memorable, as I found someone willing to part with a bunch of obscure books and DVDs for virtually nothing. I looked hard to find his house once again this year, but he was nowhere to be found. However, it was relaxing having the opportunity to browse around a neighboring area. Still the only real tradition we've established over a long period is our annual attendance of the Regent Square sales. This continues to be the most extensive collection of yard and garage sales in Pittsburgh. While you can certainly commit to walking, there is no way you can see everything available without a car.

In this summer of 2008, we kept a sharp lookout for similar events (I spent a lot of time on Craigslist). I was quite impressed by the Highland Park sales. In fact, I was surprised to see just how nice that part of the city gets. Owing to circumstances, I never really spent much time there. I have a couple of friends that live on a somewhat sketchy street, and I was under the impression that their block was generally representative of the whole. That turned out not to be the case at all. We found tons of loot worth taking home. Meanwhile attendance was surpassed only (perhaps) by the crowds at Regent Square. I also benefited from a visit to Friendship's community sale. While there wasn't as much participation, I scored big on an inside tip and came home with a paper bag worth of goodies from an aging hipster.

I know that the season is concluding, but I'm still working off the high of my big score- the Bukowski limited edition book from 1963. Besides providing a great tale that has inspired a lot of daydreaming on the part of my friends, the find constitutes an object I'll likely treasure for years. While I dare not expect a repeat of such a find, I cannot help but continue to hope to find another prize. So every Saturday morning I drag myself out of bed around 8AM and schlep off any weariness that I accumulated the night before. Obviously I've had my share of disappointments, and discovered that people can be quite deceptive in our modern era of marketing consciousness. I've seen plenty of junk.

Today I thought an extensive trip might pay off, as National Garage Sales Day is said to be this weekend (accounts differ on the actual day). With a bit of anticipation I planned a detailed itinerary. I guess it figures that my efforts were ultimately in vain. It started out with minimal success in Bloomfield (I picked up a couple of "Thomas the Tank Engine" books), and it was all downhill from there. Trips to the "Green Flea Market" at the Carnegie Science Center parking lot and the advertised sales in Manchester (in the North Side) yielded absolutely nothing. Hoping to redeem the wasted time, I stopped off at a Friendship sale, only to find out that I had been there a month ago. I don't know if I missed something, but the offerings were exhausted and forlorn. Perhaps its time to start looking toward next spring.

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